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Young people leaving the UK armed forces at increased risk of suicide

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What is the rate of suicide, timing of suicide, risk factors for suicide and rate of contact with mental health services among individuals leaving the UK armed forces?


233 803 individuals leaving the British Army (59%), Naval Service (22%) or Royal Air Force (20%) between 1 April 1996 and 31 December 2005. Median age was 25 years (20–34 years) and 90% were male. Data were compiled by the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA). Reservists and people serving in the Gurkha regiment were excluded.


Population study, UK; April 1996–December 2005.

Risk factors:

The database of those who had left the armed service was linked with suicide data. Survival analyses using Cox’s proportional hazards models were calculated to assess the effects of age and length of service on suicide rate. The effect of gender, rank, training, marital service and length of service on suicide rate were also assessed. Rate of contact with the mental health services was determined from The Inquiry patient database. A case control analysis was undertaken on this group in contact with mental health services with five controls from the general population matched in …

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